Istanbul: the sound of the Muscle.

At the beginning, our eyes are closed, listening to the sound of a control at the customs, the city, the calls to pray, the traffic, the trains, the bells… And with this exercise of proactive listening we get started on the work with the audiovisual artist Filastine in Istanbul, inside a room with warm wooden floors within the cozy and inspiring ‘Simotas Binasi’, the base of the European Souvenirs team in its stage at the Old Constantinople.

(cc) Benito Jiménez

The prominent sounds of the city emerge, not only when it’s time to look to the Qibla and the muezzins appear to be competing with each other. Istanbul sounds in its cars, its ships, its tourists and inhabitants. Sure that in other cities, sounds are equally powerful and ever-present, but in Istanbul they vibrate around you as well as within you, for whoever wants to listen and loose themselves.

During the days working at Simotas, we would go out recording these sounds and buying percussion instruments. Then, we gathered all this and thought of the soundtrack for our live cinema show. Music was present while working all throughout the comforting jam sessions with the material supplied by the archives. First, with Grey Filastine’s help -who also delighted us with a magnificent showcase of his last album with the awe-inspiring background of Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s bridge, which links Europe and Asia- and later, with the team work, where we started exercising the muscles, the sound, getting them ready to the flow of the live show.

(cc) Filastine by Cansu Turan

Bones and Muscle: building stories.
We spent the rest of the time at work in Istanbul putting together stories, getting over the first few keywords, all of them actually, in order to equalize the aspects we were more keen to highlight in this research process that is European Souvenirs. It is then when we appreciated the workshops in Seville with Toni Serra as well as with Silvia and Nuria, and invoked the muse ‘Structure’ to pull together the outline of our project.

This task led us to over three days of narrative games, writing the story separately, analysing keywords, using exquisite corpses… And these conversations brought up the main subjects, for now, of our own cosmogony. The basis of a multiple, fragmented, domestic story. These being: Family, Travel, Borders, Utopia vs. Dystopia and Memories.

Ingredients of a multimedia stew which five artists will have to cook together, although coming from different realities, in different places and with different thinking.

So, how to cook it all at once? How to serve it on the table? What about the technique?
The third part of the work in Istanbul was that one we always like to discuss about. How are we appearing on stage? What technical equipment are we using? How do we approach the challenge of having the audience seated? And here is where the collective intelligence and the background of the art team get down to business: video-projections, quadraphonic sound system, gadgets, instruments, buttons, cables… Everything is possible, not every thing is necessary. The tough part is knowing how to adequate the technique to the story, not succumbing to the virtuosity of technology, facing the simplicity (and the toughness) as opposed to being too theatrical or using entropic multilayering.

(cc) Benito Jiménez

In the middle of this debate, always unfinished but quite advanced, we left Istanbul, satisfied with the good work and looking forward to Warsaw, our next stop. Meanwhile, we will work far away from each other, but still being able, if we close our eyes, to hear the sound of that muscle that joins Europe and Asia… in Istanbul.

Pedro Jiménez & Malaventura.

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